Just keep swimming. . . : Local scuba diving aficionado loves life underwater
About Out and About
Out and About is a Pioneer feature where we will profile everyday people doing everyday things in and around Bemidji. Stories run on Tuesdays. If you know someone you think should be profiled, please email Maggi Stivers at email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BEMIDJI -- Growing up, everyone has a childhood dream, whether it's to be a firefighter or a veterinarian, to go to Disneyworld or become a famous baseball player.
For Greg Moen, his dream was always about scuba diving. "When I was a little kid, my neighbors were scuba divers and I always wanted to go with," he said.
Moen, 51 and a biology teacher at TrekNorth, has now recorded 480 dives in his dive log the past 12 years. "It's been kind of a dream fulfilled later in life," he said. Moen has been scuba diving in tropical locations, including Mexico and Fiji, but the majority of his dives have been in the local Bemidji area. "There is nothing here that is going to eat you," he joked.
Moen was encouraged by Dan Carlson, owner of The Dive Depot, to become certified as an open water diver and eventually a divemaster. He works at the store now, often leading beginners on dives.
Temperature and visibility are the major differences when comparing diving in a tropical area to a Minnesota lake. "When I dove in Fiji, at the surface it was 80 degrees and down 130 feet, it was 79 degrees, here you go down 20 to 30 feet and the water temperature drops 12 degrees," Moen said.
Scuba diving also has allowed Moen the chance to meet a lot of new people. "I have dove with people from Minnesota, North Dakota, Canada, Croatia and Australia; so meeting those people is pretty spectacular," he said.
Moen has also been able to bring up several items from the bottom of lake in his years of diving. On one of his first dives in Benjamin Lake, near Blackduck, he found an old forestry service ax.
Moen also found a shoulder blade of either a horse, cow or bison. He had also found an old brass reel from 1929, "I looked up the serial number on it," he said.
"I used to bring up a lot of stuff," he said, but now he tends to leave items on the lake bottom for others to find. "When you see stuff you always go 'How did this get here?' or 'What's the story behind this?'" he said. Moen has even used some of his found items in the classroom. "I'll give them to my kids and say write me a story of how this showed up in the lake."
Moen has spent hours underwater looking for specific items. Last summer, Moen received a call from a couple who had been swimming in Lake Bemidji and the woman had lost her wedding ring. "I was doing search patterns of one foot, I'd bring down a spike and I would do one foot circles at a time because that's all you can see, I couldn't find it and I went back dive after dive," he said.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Moen purchased an underwater metal detector in hopes it would help. "On my first dive with the metal detector, 44 minutes into the dive, I found it," he said, "I got this beep on the detector, reached into this massive weeds and muck and the ring fell right on my ring finger of my left hand."
For Moen, the time underwater is a relaxing time. "It's peaceful, there are no distractions, it's just you and your bubbles," he said. "The quiet, the peace, the solitude, you just can't beat that."
Moen has no plans of stopping scuba diving. "There was a woman in the store two or three years ago, for her 84th or 85th birthday, she went diving in Antarctica under the ice," he said. "I mean, that's nuts, but I kind of look to that as I've got 33 years to keep doing it."